Warning: Don’t watch while hungry.
Viewers are familiar with cuisines around the world such as the food from France, Italy and Japan, but now it’s Filipino cuisine that takes the spotlight. Replacing Chef Chico portrays different Filipino dishes in each of its eight episodes, but these meals are great side dishes to sous chef Ella’s journey in managing the Hain fine dining restaurant. Alongside this journey of self-discovery comes heartwarming stories from the Hain restaurant’s customers, the receptionist’s cheeky commentary, and sweet tracks from Leanne & Naara. They all mix into a lighthearted, if a tad bit familiar, cooking drama series, and it does so with the breezy and calm attitude of lead character sous chef Ella.
With the premise, Replacing Chef Chico might remind you of a Filipinized version of Hulu’s The Bear, as a chef has to take over a restaurant after an incident. The head chef even has a similar propensity to swearing. However, the show is definitely more lighthearted, with a fun look at the Filipino fine dining scene, as well as an enemies-to-lovers dynamic underlined by Wena’s cheeky commentary. That being said, even with its lighthearted tone, the show isn’t afraid of dealing with certain themes like chronic illness, as we learn more about the personalized dishes for each customer. Not only do these stories feel heartwarming, they also showcase a great variety of dishes from Filipino cuisine, from different versions of adobo, to region-specific dishes like Pampanga’s tibok-tibok. The sweet approach makes Replacing Chef Chico stand out from other kitchen-set shows.